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Thanks for visiting my vintage Hamilton watch blog. I like to restore US-made Hamilton wrist watches back to their original glory and share my experiences with other enthusiasts. Use the "Search" space below if you know what model you're looking for. Feel free to leave polite comments or questions in the spaces provided. Also check out my "watches for sale" on my Etsy site - the link is on the right, just below.

Monday, January 27, 2014

1956 Automatic K-404

Did you ever wonder how many Hamilton models there are?  I did too - as I wondered how long I can keep this blog going by showcasing unique models.  Turns out there are over 1,000 so I'm about 25% of the way there.  Of course, many of them I can't afford to buy and quite a few I will probably never even see for sale - like the Barbizon.  But I still have a ways to go nonetheless.

So here's another one to add to the "been there, done that" list.  It's a 1956 Automatic K-404.  It was only produced for one year.

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The K-404 comes in a 10K gold filled case.  The sterling silver dial features solid 18K gold numerals and markers.  The dauphine hands are luminous and there are luminous dots at the hour markers too.

It's interesting to note the Hamilton catalog doesn't show that there's a 6 on the dial.  In reality the K-404 has numbers at the 12, 3, 6 and 9 positions.  I think this is the first error I've seen in the artistic renditions of the catalogs.

Behind the dial you will find a 17 jewel Hamilton 661 movement.  This Swiss-made automatic was a workhorse for Hamilton and the dominant movement in automatic models from the 1950's.

I recently purchased a K-404 off eBay.  The listing pictures were terrible and it ended up being a lot rougher than I was expecting.  I didn't pay that much for it but I still probably overpaid based on the condition of the case… as you'll see below.

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Apparently some moron damaged the case, most likely to test the gold content.  I hate when jewelers damage a piece to sample the gold.

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The inside of the case back clearly states the gold content (the outside says it too).  The inside also tells you what model this is.  That seems to occur about 50% of the time.  In other words, sometimes the model name is in the case back and sometimes it isn't.

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The acrylic crystal is very beat up and accounts for most of the watch's rough aesthetic appearance.  Just changing that will make a big difference.

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After an overhaul of the movement, you can see below that this 661 is running great.

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And here's the finished product, all polished up with a new crystal and nice strap.  I think I'll take the case to my local jeweler and see if they can fix the damage on the sides.  Hopefully that won't be too difficult because otherwise this watch looks great.

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You can see above that the dial is showing a slight case of radium burn from the radium on the hands.  Since they no longer glow I removed the radium in my ultrasonic and then re-lumed the dial and hands with modern, non-radioactive, lume.

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I think this K-404 turned out really well.  Originally I thought I might have to scrap it so I'm glad it could be saved.

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